Folding Bike FAQ
Folding Bike Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Which Downtube bike should I buy?
Answer: See the below table to help explain the advantages and disadvantages of each bike. Need more details? View our folding bike comparison table.
Overall if you are looking for the smoothest riding bike buy the FS bike. If you need a frame mounted rack get the 9 or 8H. If you want a super lightweight bike get the Nova. Women seem to love the mini because of the low standover height and lightweight, we will reintroduce it in 2014.
Full suspension (FS model)
- Many color choices: white, orange, black.
tall frame to fit tall riders
heaviest bike at a lightweight 27lbs
Front suspension (9 and 8H models)
as comfy as the full suspension with suspension fork and wide saddle
frame mounted rack, and rear fender make this our top commuter model
fork adds about 1.5lbs to the weight of the bike
Nova ( No suspension )
- Lightest 20" wheel
bike we carry ( ONLY 24lbs )
- Strong and light new frame hinge
- Shimano 7sp drivetrain
- Aluminum frame
- Includes kickstand
ride due to no suspension
is not as tall as the FS hence taller riders ( over 6’) may not fit
as well. Best for riders with under 33" inseam
bike we carry at 24lbs
- Super compact folded size
- 8sp Internal hub
- Super low standover height. Great for kids, women, and seniors
- Not as adjustable as our bigger bikes
is not as tall hence taller riders (well over 6’) may not fit
as well. Best for riders with under 33" inseam
Q Why are your bikes so much less expensive than your competition?
A. We design, import, distribute, and retail our bikes. With all the savings we are able to sell $500-$1500 bikes for $300-$600.
Q How do your bikes compare to your competition?
A. View a detailed feature comparison of Downtube vs. Dahon, Downtube vs. Xootr Swift, Downtube vs. Brompton, Downtube vs. Bike Friday, Downtube vs. Montague, Downtube vs. Citizen Bike, Downtube vs. Bazooka. A short comparison of our main competitors is below:
Dahon: They created the market in the late 70's. Currently the only Dahon's in our price range are the Speed 7 ( MSRP $550 ). This bike has a steel frame, no suspension, and 7sp freewheel drivetrains. All our 20" wheel bikes are less expensive, have aluminum frames and components, 9sp cassette drivetrains ( the Nova is a 7sp ), suspension designs, many design improvements including braze-ons for water bottle cages, disc capable brake systems and replaceable rear hanger. Dahon's in the $1000+ range are more competitive with our suspension models, while our Nova ( $299 )beats out the Speed 7 ( $550 ).
Brompton: The Brompton has the best fold in the market. However our mini competes very well with all Bromptons. The standard Brompton starts at over $1000 has a heavy steel frame ( bike weighs 28lbs ), bad brakes, 3 speeds, and thumpy elastomer suspension. Our mini starts at around $600, has a lightweight aluminum frame ( bike weighs 24lbs ), excellent V brakes, and high quality 8 speed Sturmey Archer internal hub drivertrain.
Xootr: The Xootr is the lightest 8sp folder in its price range, $799. However it has the largest folded size of any 20" wheel folding bike. Our Nova is slightly heavier ( about a pound ), but is more adjustable, folds much smaller and costs only $299.
Bike Friday: Friday's are expensive ( $1200+ ), made of steel with minimal suspension, and difficult to fold ( except the tikit ). All our models have similar weight and performance characteristics with the Friday lineup...and cost much less.
Montague: Montague's are nice heavy duty full size 26" wheel bikes. Our bikes have better suspension, hence more comfort, and fold down to about half the size of a Montague.
Strida: Strida's are lightweight and compact. However they are uncomfortable, and have a bad reputaion for durability. They are a good option for inner city bikers that do not have far to ride. Our mini is more comfortable, very durable, 8sp drivetrain, and costs less than a Strida.
Birdy: A very slick looking full suspension aluminum folding bike for around $1500. Our FS model is equally stylish for less than half the price.
GoBike: Interesting bikes that are not available in the US or UK at this time. Our FS competes with the GoBike.
Citizen Bike : Most Citizen bikes are made of steel with low end 6sp drivetrains. Their first model came with rear suspension which had a design flaw. The position of the shock made the bike bob up and down, like a pogo stick. Their bikes have consistently had design and assembly issues from the factory. Our bikes have aluminum frames and parts, 9sp cassette drivetrains, and quality suspension designs by Dr. Yan.
Bazooka: Bazooka's are sold via non traditional bicycle retailers. They are generally considered second rate quality. Most Bazooka's have steel frames and low end 6sp freewheel drivetrains. All our bikes are aluminum with higher quality drivetrains.
Q Will your bikes fit me?
A View our frame diagrams. All our folding bikes have a seat tube that is angled back. This allows our full suspension and front suspension frames to fit most riders from 4ft 10in - 6ft 5in. No suspension bikes will fit most riders 4ft 10in- 6ft.( 33" inseam ).
Our bikes can also emulate comfort bike geometry. View instructions on how to get a nearly vertical riding position.
Q Do you have any videos of your bikes?
A View a folding & riding video of the FS model.
Q Can I take it on an airplane?
A Yes. Scott Holmen was kind enough to post pictures on how to pack a folding bike in a regulation sized Samsonite Oyster case. Also view this blog with detailed packing instructions for a VIIIH ( 2007 internal hub model ) into a suitcase
Q I lost my instructions. Can I get another copy?
A View our instructions online or download our instructions in Word format.
Q Are your bikes comfortable?
A Most of our 2013 bikes have a Zoom suspension fork. Our Full Suspension (FS) models have a rear shock, which is amazingly comfortable. We challenge anyone to find a more comfortable folding bike! Even our 9 ( front suspension ) model has a comfy saddle to absorb road shock.
Q How adjustable is it?
A The seat post is 500mm long which is long enough for most people. We use a height adjustable stem. Additionally a 29.4 stoker stem can be installed on the bike with a 29.4mm tube. The stem can then be flipped around for people with short arms or riders requiring a vertical riding position.
Q How do I adjust the saddle or stem height?
A See step by step pictorial saddle height instructions, saddle angle adjustment, stem angle adjustment and folding stem height instructions
Q How do I fold the pedals frame and stem?
A See step
by step pictorial pedal folding instructions,
stem folding instructions,
and frame folding instructions
Q How do I adjust the brakes?
A View our instructions
Q How do I remove the quickrelease wheels?
A Pictorial instructions removing the front quick release wheel.
Q How do I remove the cranks?
A. Step by Step Crank removal instructions.
Q How do I adjust the preload on 2008-2011 model forks?
A Simply turn the dial on the top of the fork.
Q How do I adjust the shifting on the derailleur bikes?
A View our pictorial step by step rear deraileur adjustment instructions
Q How do I adjust the 8sp internal hub?
A Place the shifter in 4th gear. You need to turn the barrel adjuster until the two yellow arrows touch on the back of the hub. Pictorial instuctions are in section 2.1 of the Sturmey Archer manual. View our simplified pictorial hub adjustment instructions
Q The frame looks nice, but is it high quality?
A All our frames are made from 6061 Aluminum the most popular alloy used for bicycles. Hence our frames are light, durable, and rust resistant
Q Do you have any videos of the bikes?
A View our first commercial which ran in Philadelphia in July. A customers Downtube Cruzbike recumbent conversion.
Q Do you sell recumbent folders?
A Yes and No. We do not sell our own recumbent folders, however you can use the Cruzbike conversion to turn almost any Downtube folding bicycle into a folding recumbent. View a customers Downtube Cruzbike conversion.
Q How many speeds is the bicycle?
A Our bikes are 8 or 9 speed with a beautiful lightweight cassette. All folders under $600 use cheaper freewheels. Freewheels wobble around on the rear wheel, giving poor shifting performance. A cassette moves in a perfect circle allowing smoother shifts.
Q Are the components high quality?
A We use all aluminum components. We include one of the nicest cassettes you can buy. We also feature an adjustable height stem, super soft grips, and nice bar ends ( to help steering and climbing). The brake calipers are aluminum V brake style. The wheels are light with stainless steel spokes and double wall rims.
Q Can I take it on a boat?
A View some photos of a mini on a sailboat a big thanks to Pete Simchuk for the pictures on his boat.
Q Can I take it on a train?
A You should check with your local transit authority. However, we have had no issues carrying the bikes on Philadelphia trains.
Once on a train the bike rolls when folded in half, hence there is no need to lift it. Ridi Mayer was kind enough to send us pictures of his Downtube mini on a New Jersey Transit train.
Q Can I tour on a Downtube?
A YES! Our 9 ( front suspesnion ) includes a frame mounted rack, hence you can pack and go. However many have toured on the FS as well. View Ben Waddington's FS set up for touring. The new 9FS has braze ons at the chainstay to support a rack. View pictures of Dr. Yan's first bike tour with Sam Ryan in 1995.
Q Is it harder to ride a 20in wheel bike?
A Actually it is much easier to ride. The center of gravity is much lower,allowing for a tighter turning radius. Additionally, the stand over height is much lower than a conventional bike, making it safer to ride. Lastly smaller wheels are more efficient under 18mph, hence the bikes are fast!
Q How do you remove the rear wheel to change a flat on the internal hub bikes?
A ( text and picture by Scott Holmen ) First shift the bike into 8th gear to get as much tension off the cable as possible.
Pull the shift cable end towards the rear of the bike. You should see a black ring rotating counter-clockwise as you pull the cable. You can pull it with your fingers, but a pair of pliers would make it easier. Rotate the black ring at least a few inches/ a quarter turn. Push down on the black ring with your fingers, a screwdriver, small piece of wood, etc. to keep the ring from turning. Pull the cable end nut out of the bracket in the black ring. You should end up with something that looks like this.
Q How is the gearing on the 9sp bikes?
A The gearing is low enough to allow most people to climb up most hills. The designer, Dr. Yan Lyansky, claims to be able to climb any hill with his FS bike. The gearing is high enough to easily cruise at over 20mph.
Q Do your bikes have anything special?
A We think so: braze-ons on the headtube, seat tube, and down tube can be used for water bottle cages, battery packs, bags, pumps, etc. We also have super soft grips, mini barends, replaceable rear derailleur hanger, thinner front tire for less rolling resistance.
Q Does it need assembly?
A The bike is 100% assembled, however it needs to be tuned by a professional.
Q Are they safe to ride?
A Our bikes are overbuilt and make to withstand punishment ( especially the FS ). In addition we have safety locks on our stem and frame quickrelease, so they can not fold while riding.
Q Why do you have different front and rear tires on some models?
A This is one of the best features of our bikes. Note the forces on the front wheel are push based, and pull based on the rear. Pushing is "harder" than pulling, hence more energy is wasted up front. Hence we thinned the front tire. Additionally, the seat tube is angled back more weight is distributed towards the rear of the bike. Hence we put a wide rear tire for traction. This configuration is highly efficient, and very safe.
Q Do you ship to Europe? If so which bikes.
A Yes shipping is $250 per bike.
Q When will the 2013 models be available in Europe?
A They are available now, shipping is $250 via USPS.
Q Do you have tech support?
A Yes our tech email is yanL@downtube.com or AOLIM is DowntubeY and phone is 215-245-4032
Q Can I create a link to your site?
A Yes we would love it if you linked to our site! Please use the following black text on your website to create a link: <A HREF="http://www.downtube.com">Downtube Folding Bikes</A>
Q Does it have a warranty?
A All bikes purchased on our website carry a 1 year limited warranty against defects on the frame and parts. Drivetrains are warrantied for 1 year by Sun Race or Shimano. Bikes purchased elsewhere may carry a longer or shorter warranty.
Please check with the seller to determine your warranty.
Warranty's are for the origional owner & not transferable.
Q We have Downtube Bikes and want to help you spread the word. How can I help?
A See our how to help page to create flyers. We can always use volunteer marketing
services. email yanL@downtube.com if you want to help.
Q How is the satisfaction guarantee for bikes handled?
A The guarantee applies to any bike purchased on this website, it does not apply to sales via any other channel. If you are unsatisfied with a bike send an email to yanL@downtube.com . A return # will be issued and you will need to send the bike to our return center at 1443 Tasker St, Philadelphia, Pa 19145. After reciept we will issue a credit for the full cost of the bicycle ( shipping fee is not refundable ). One satisfaction guarantee return is allowed per customer per year.
A We never give out private customer information!
Q What are the weights of all individual parts on the bikes?
A We have a partial list of weights compliled by Fred ( Baldone on Bikeforums.net ) from his 2006 1/2 bike.
Q How do I unpack the bike after I recieve it?
A View our unpacking instructions.
Q Do you recommend any other bicycle websites?
A View our Great Bicycle Links page .